That's more like it. After performing about as well as a coin flip during the first week of the season, I rebounded nicely, nailing 63 percent of picks, including Wyoming over Texas, Florida International over Alabama, and South Carolina over Georgia. Of my misses, LSU and Utah failed to cover for the second straight week, and my lock of the week fell through again as not only did my beloved Buckeyes lose to USC, they kept it within seven points.
Lock of the Week (USC): 0-1
Lock of the Week (Penn St., USC): 0-2
As always, I only pick games involving AP Top 25 teams that have a line (so no Ole Miss-SE Louisiana State pick this week), the home team is in CAPS, and all of these picks are 100% correct. Unlike always, this week's lines are taken from bookmaker.com, since Danny Sheridan must be on vacation or something.
#1 FLORIDA (-29.5) over Tennessee
Good to see the Gators finally start their season. That line may seem a bit steep, but remember that Urban Meyer has a bone to pick with Lane Kiffin and that the Gators' coach has had no qualms about running up the score on teams (Charleston Southern, Troy) that have never accused him of recruiting misconduct.
#2 TEXAS (-17.5) over Texas Tech
Another powerhouse with a bone to pick, the Longhorns may just pour it on a little bit extra to avenge last season's Michael Crabtree-fueled upset.
#3 USC (-20) over Washington
Last Saturday, the Huskies ended the nation's longest losing streak at 15 by beating Idaho (great job!); this week, the Huskies get to begin a new losing streak by getting beat up by a Trojans squad that will have learned from last year's post-Ohio State performance.
#4 ALABAMA (-38) over North Texas
Last week, the Crimson Tide failed to cover a 30+ point spread against Florida International, a Sun Belt team, but should have no problem covering an even higher spread this week against North Texas, a much, much worse Sun Belt team.
#5 PENN STATE (-30) over Temple
Will the Nittany Lions be able to hold a third straight opponent scoreless in the first half? I say yes, and I think unlike the first two times, Joe Pa will keep the pressure on into the second half if only to remind Temple which school really owns Pennsylvania (although, technically, Villanova already beat him to the punch).
Florida State (+7.5) over #7 BYU
This is the letdown game I've been waiting for. BYU rolled Tulane last week, while Florida State barely beat Jackson State. Nearly two weeks removed from their clash with Miami, the Seminoles should be recovered and ready to redeem themselves from last week. BYU should pull out the win, but expect another near-classic (this should have been my 38-34 game this week). Game of the week.
#8 California (-14) over MINNESOTA
California has just been rolling teams (average score vs. Maryland and E. Washington: 56-10), while Minnesota has shown nothing to make me think they will be an exception.
Louisiana-Lafayette (+26.5) over #9 LSU
LSU has failed to cover against Washington and Vanderbilt, while Louisiana-Lafayette may be just be dangerous following their upset of Kansas State. Probably not, but LSU will only win by 23, not 27.
#10 Boise State (-7) over FRESNO STATE
Fresno State is coming off a tough double OT loss in Madison, and has usually played ranked opponents tough, but Boise State seems on a mission to make it back to a BCS bowl, Fresno's feistiness be damned.
Toledo (+20.5) over #11 Ohio State (at Cleveland Browns Stadium)
Prediction: Toledo (averaged 42.5 points per game vs. Purdue and Colorado) will outscore USC's 18 points against the Buckeyes by at least 10 points. The Bucks should hold on to win, but by at least a touchdown less than 21. LOCK OF THE WEEK.
#12 OKLAHOMA (-16.5) over Tulsa
Tulsa can put up points, but not this week. Oklahoma should be focused on shutting down a much lesser in-state school.
#13 VIRGINIA TECH (-5) over #19 Nebraska
The Cornhuskers' sojourn in the Sun Belt (first opponents: Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State) over, reality will come crashing down hard in Blacksburg. Give me the Hokies in a romp.
#14 Georgia Tech (+5) over #20 MIAMI
Just because Miami beat Florida State* in one of the most entertaining games of the year so far, shouldn't we hold off a bit on making them five point favorites over many people's preseason ACC favorite? If FSU's Jarmon Forston holds on to the ball in the end zone as time expires, Miami would be 0-1, unranked, and getting four. I think this will be a good game, but this Cane love needs to hold off for at least one more week.
*The same Florida State team, remember, that needed two scores in the last 37 seconds of the game to beat Jackson State 19-9 last week.
#16 OKLAHOMA STATE (-32.5) over Rice
Poor Rice. Instead of playing an Oklahoma State team with an inflated head following a blowout of Houston, the Owls have to go into T. Boone Pickens Stadium and face a Cowboys team fuming about their already-blown up national title chances.
OREGON STATE (+1) over #17 Cincinnati
Yes, Cincinnati has looked very impressive in wins over Rutgers and FCS school Southeast Missouri State (beating anyone 70-3 is pretty impressive), but Rutgers is a Big East team and Southeast Missouri--actually, I can just stop at Southeast Missouri and you get the picture. Oregon State plays very tough at home (ask last year's Trojans team) and should be primed to pull off the upset.
#18 Utah (+4.5) over OREGON
Utah's 16-game winning streak should come to an end in Eugene, but this feels more like a last-second field goal game than a go-up-by-six-and-milk-the-clock game (if that makes any sense).
#22 KANSAS (-22.5) over Duke
The Jayhawks should be able to score at will against a Duke team that has allowed Richmond and Army to score 24 and 19, respectively. (I know that doesn't seem like a lot of points, but you have to take into account that they are Richmond and Army.)
ARKANSAS (-1.5) over #23 Georgia
I've seen enough shortcomings from the Bulldogs (struggling to score against an Oklahoma State team that gave up 45 points the next game; struggling to stop a South Carolina team that scored 7 points their previous game from scoring) to declare them ripe for an upset, and what better team to do it than the most dangerous middle-tier team in the SEC, Arkansas.
East Carolina (+7.5) over #24 NORTH CAROLINA
Did anyone watch last week's Tar Heels-Huskies game? How could either of those teams ever be favored by more than three points? East Carolina is stinging from the smackdown West Virginia gave them, but they should be able to hang in UNC and their sucky coach well into the fourth quarter.
#25 MICHIGAN (-24) over Eastern Michigan
It's games like this that allow Wolverine fans to wash the stink of the past two seasons completely off them and emerge re-galvanized and ready to take down the downtrodden Big Ten. I mean, the Big Ten must be depressing if I'm actually excited about the resurgence of That Team Up North. (The me from five years ago is throwing paradox-caution to the wind and kicking present-day me in the balls right now.)
Conference Champions and BCS Bowl Projections (changes in italics)
ACC: Georgia Tech
Big 12: Texas
Big East: Cincinnati
Big Ten: Penn State
Conference USA: Southern Miss
MAC: Bowling Green
Mountain West: BYU
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Monroe
WAC: Boise State
Fiesta Bowl: California vs. Boise State
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. BYU
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati
Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
National Championship Game: Florida vs. Texas
National Champions: Florida Gators